Two Ways to Help Protect Your Baby’s Eye Sight

Looking into your newborn’s face the first time is a special moment—with every detail likely to be remembered for a lifetime. Although your little one can’t focus, he or she will be able to see your form and respond to your face.

How is that possible? Newborn babies typically enter the world with a wonderful ability to see the difference between light and dark. From there, eyesight develops at a quick pace between birth and age 3 to 4 months. Remember, this is also a time when your baby’s brain develops rapidly.

Early detection and treatment of vision problems is essential to preventing loss of vision, learning difficulties, and delayed development. Many eye problems occur early on, so take the following measures to protect your newest family member.

1. Provide Proper Eye Care

Your newborn should be examined in the nursery for eye infections, abnormal light reflexes, and other eye disorders, such as cataracts, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

At 6 months, make sure your well-baby visit includes a visual screening. This exam should pay special attention to how your infant’s eyes work together. Be sure to discuss these and future eye exams and screenings with your child's doctor.

2. Know About Potential Risk Factors

Your baby is more likely to experience vision problems if you had an infection while you were pregnant or if there’s a family history of vision problems. This is also true if your baby was born prematurely, or was given oxygen during the neonatal period.

Infants, who experience the following, also have an increased risk of problems with their eye sight:

  • Heart disease

  • Hearing problems

  • Trauma to the eye

  • Eye structure problems, such as cataracts, that are present birth

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Jovino, DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/6/2010

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